LeBron James could not reverse a string of losing debut games with new NBA teams as his Los Angeles Lakers era began with defeat at Portland.
James scored a game-high 26 points, including two rim-rattling dunks, and had 12 rebounds but the Portland Trail Blazers spoiled his Lakers debut with a 128-119 victory at the Moda Center arena.
The basketball world had been waiting months to see the 33-year-old James in the purple and gold jersey and when the moment arrived he electrified the Portland crowd, but ultimately he couldn’t prevent the Lakers from dropping their 16th straight game to the Trail Blazers.
James, who averaged 27.5 points, a career-high 9.1 assists and 8.6 rebounds last season, finished with six assists but at times he also looked out of sync with his new team-mates.
“It’s not instant oatmeal. It’s not that fast,” James said. “It takes some time to get that chemistry where you can just close your eyes and know exactly where guys are.
“I liked our fight to get back into the game when we were down double digits. I liked the way we competed at times. I liked the way we shared the ball as well. Those were all positive.
“There are some things that we could do better. We can rebound a lot better, we had some turnovers, which I expected. Us just trying to get a feel for one another.”
Lakers coach Luke Walton said of James: “Glad he’s on our team. He’s pretty good at the game of basketball.”